Notes for "The Evening Visitor"

One evening, when all the birds of the spring were in my trees singing as loudly as they could, I heard one new song I’d never heard before.  I heard it just a few times, one short low call, about 30 seconds between each call.  I managed to record it through my window.  I sent the call to several friends.  Strangely, none of us could recognize it.  I never heard it again.

I used RX8 to isolate it and clean it up, and then put it through various programs to use it as an instrument, including Padshop2, Iris2, Palindrome, Phase Plant and HALion 6.

All the sounds you hear are from that original one call.


  • There It Is Again


This only used one rendition of the call, one I developed through HALion6, and it is probably the closest rendering of the original call.  I then put it through SoundToy’s Crystallizer, and Steinberg’s MultiTap Delay.


  • Among the Others


Based solely on the bird sound, this is developed through the Izotope “Iris 2” program.   That allowed me to take the original sound wave and pull out portions of the frequencies, and then combine those into an instrument in its own right (see photo below).  Wonderfully each strike of the key could then produce several tones sequentially. There are two such instruments from the Iris program used here, the “Scrape Delay” which are the tiny chirpy sounds; and the “Oriole 3,” which gives the opening low, airy bird sound--comprised of three layers.  This second, airy instrument I then ran through Exponential Audio’s PhoenixVerb.


  • Feather


From the original call I developed five different instruments.  The first, from Iris 2 again, opens the piece, and was filtered through Steinberg’s Chopper and Eventide’s ShimmerVerb.  The second, low sound that enters is a different Iris 2 instrument, run through Physion to help control the transients, and Steinberg’s Undulator.  The little chord bounces came from a similar Iris 2 rendition of the call, also run through Physion and Undulator, but with the addition of Kiloheart’s Pitch-shifted delay with modulation (+12, +7 and -4:  all those nice perfect intervals), controlled in the multipass.  The last two instruments--which more closely resemble the original bird call--are still from the Iris 2 instruments, but simply played higher.


  • The Sun Shines Through You

You hear the melody three times.  The first as a solo, then accompanied by a slow pulse.  The last time the frequencies are gradually pulled apart and allowed to quietly melt into air. 

When I was listening to this in the living room speakers for the final master, I could hear tiny bird sounds and I wasn't sure that they were a result of the effects I was using or coming from outside.  Turns out they were from outside birds.  So I returned to the studio and--still using the original call--created some tiny bird calls at the end, up several octaves now, by playing just the first few pitches of the original sound.

This is all based on one small tone of the bird call that I designed into an instrument with Padshop2 (“J Oriole better tone”).  Then, I reprocessed that single tone through the Roli Seaboard program, Equator, where I could add the vibrato and individual dynamics through its sensitive Note Expression on the Rise 49 keyboard.  The melody is heard three times, once solo, then with the accompaniment, and then the last time when I took it up an octave and added Eventide’s ShimmerVerb (“J Cathedral half Sun”).  This provided the dual pitch shifters to add all the harmonics going up, while simultaneously  adding  all the harmonics going down.  (The Shimmerverb adds the reverb to the pitches shifted by perfect 4ths, 5ths and octaves.)  

The accompaniment pulse is still based on the same Padshop tone developed from the bird call.   Its presence was produced by running it through Steinberg’s Multitap Delay, (“J Ambient Oriole”), which contains a tiny phaser on the inside loop, delay and filtering on the tap, so small it is barely audible, and autopan and tiny reverb on the post effects.  Then I ran that through the StereoEnhancer.

The remastered version that you find here is much better than the version I've published on the streaming services.


  • Life Among Leaves


There are only two instruments developed from the original call here.  The majority of the music comes from the clipped sampling through HALion.  The opening chuff sounds I was able to get from using Eventide’s Physion to isolate and emphasize that sharp attack, boosted by Steinberg’s Flanger and then wonderfully warped by Cableguy’s FilterShaper3.   The shimmery long tones were developed in Padshop, using Isotope’s VocalSynth2, with the Vocoder, Compuvox and Polyvox.


  • Then Away


This piece returns to the Iris2 sounds, now taking different snippets and frequencies in order to get more strikes and long tones.  I use Steinberg’s Multitap Delay and the PhoenixVerb for the variety.

Throughout all the pieces I had to use a variety of multiband compressors and Steinberg’s wonderful Frequency EQ to help control the wide dynamic range, particularly since I had so many rumbly low tones, and shrill high tones.  I probably learned more about mixing and mastering from these pieces than any other piece (and obviously still have a lot to learn).

New comments can no longer be posted.